Progressive Social Policy
We have a fight going on in our city and it is about extending benefits to the unmarried partners of city employees. A new city council member, who is gay, has appealed for these benefits to be given to both homosexual and heterosexual city employees who have an unmarried partner living with them in a domestic relationship. We used to call this “shacking up,” or “living in sin.” At first it looked like the momentum was all on the side of the gay council member. The City Council took up the issue, several religious types came and made some fiery statements about immorality and sodomy, and it seemed as if the media and comments by public officials had marginalized them. The mayor decided to back the new policy, and the Council approved the new measure by one vote. Then the folks opposed to the measure pursued a petition whereby the issue would be placed on the public ballot at the next election. In a town where politics on the local level is a fairly lazy moving stream, where not that many citizens actually vote in local elections, where signatures for petitions seem to take a long time to be gathered and then approved, this one came together quickly with more than double the needed voters asking for the chance to vote. It looks like the momentum has swung the other way. Comments made by various individuals seem dismissive about the success of those who want to stop this new policy. One of the consistent themes with the LGBT crowd is the inevitability of the acceptance of their lifestyles, the moral and legal legitimacy for their marriages (and divorces), along with the turning of public policies to be gay favorable rather than gay averse. There is a triumphalism in one court decision after another, one legislative change after another. The power of the White House has been unleashed to push this as a new civil right through the State Department in our relationships with other nations. The shouting down of opponents, the highlighting of anything that smacks of prejudice against not just a homosexual lifestyle but a gay political agenda so as to censure contrary opinions has become commonplace. Whereas at one time religion seemed to be universally against such behaviors, let alone its advocacy, it is now divided. Clerics, denominations, and religious sounding arguments are used to proclaim the acceptance of gays and gay marriage simply an issue of love and freedom. This modern gay movement has some distinct advantages. It is focused, it is well funded, it has some very intelligent, gifted and talented people as its advocates. It sounds like freedom, it sounds like love, and everyone likes those things. Those opposed to it have some disadvantages. They are not organized, they are not usually focused on this one issue, they often fight back with an emotional response and are easily caricatured whereas it is seen as not only impolite but downright scandalous to make fun of gay people. Those opposed to homosexuality usually have a religious reason for being so and in America that seems to be a non-starter. If your reason is religious it must be personal and feels like it should be wrong to impose on other people. Not only that but one can’t very well accuse homosexuals of hypocrisy, but all religious and straight people who proclaim this to be an issue of morality can be accused of hypocrisy. It seems like homosexuals can be as nasty as they want to be and still be seen as legitimate champions of their cause, whereas those opposed to such behavior seem to eventually be seen to have their own problems with sexual lust and therefore must be hypocrites. If they never fall then they must simply be self-righteous. It would seem to make for a much more gracious environment for this discussion if we all admitted we were fallen creatures, but that there are still some things wrong and some things right, whether you can live perfect or not. I take it as a given that no one can. It has taken a long time for me to get to my point. I would like to disagree with the decision of the City Council and the Mayor. I think they have failed terribly in their responsibility to set sound economic and social policy. I do think that we should expect that of our leaders, to do that which is truly progressive so as to improve our city. In a city where so many of our problems arise from the destruction of the family how does this policy help us? If more than 80% of African-American children are born out of wedlock, how does the discouragement of marriage and stable families help us? If communities with large numbers of single parent homes translate into ungovernable schools that fail to educate and teach, and those same homes translate into the majority of inmates in prison, how does their new policy help us? It seems to me that wise social policy would do everything to encourage marriage, between a man and a woman, and not destroy it. Children raised by two parents of opposite genders have the best chance at progress in their lives. It is hard to consistently and continually love a person of the opposite gender, in order to do that life has to be about so much more than sex, and so many things are improved in humans by the effort. We become better people, more human as it were, if we love well, faithfully, and for an extended time. To make citizens subsidize with their taxes a lifestyle of employees that they radically disapprove of for moral reasons is a touch of tyranny. When funds are needed to provide adequately for the salaries and pensions of other city employees but are rather given for this it smacks of theft. For city leaders to think that those citizens who are opposed to this are part of a fading crowd whose views will change with time and education let me encourage them to not be so naive. There is no moral high ground, as there was for civil rights, when it comes to the destruction of marriage and the proliferation and endorsement of homosexuality. Religion deeply felt and believed for millennia, though it seems challenged by religious liberals, will not go away. It has a way of being revived over and over again, and sometimes rises up to draw lines which its opponents had thought to be fading.